Posts Tagged ‘growth’

So this is what it’s like.
The dark so thick no glimmer of light can get in.
The air so stale my lungs lurch to escape the fumes.
The sign reads, “no train horn”.
My head hurts.
My eyes are blurry.
My heart sings with the questions that only clarity can answer.
So… Many… Questions.
A million ways I’ve asked.
A million ways I’ve tried to be heard.
A million ways I’ve tried to explain a piece of the my soul to you as if there could ever be an explanation that would shed light on the darkened path that we can sometimes travel if we allow ourselves to float freely down the rabbit hole.

So this is what it’s like.
Figuring out who you are through someone else’s eyes.
Their vision is so cloudy they stumble and fall on my mistakes.
The sign reads, “you are here”.
Looking for myself.
My finger scanning the map.
My mind wanders from place to beautiful place.
So… Many… Places.
Not pulling you back to the abyss we’ve already visited.
Never wanting to pull you back.
Pulling you back would mean I’m still there too looking for some dysfunctional company because that’s the only kind of friend who would crawl into the rabbit hole with you, a beautifully fucked up friend.

So this is what it’s like.
The tunnel you’ve been crawling through suddenly opens to a rocky shore.
The rocks are so jagged but on the other side is the sweet ebb and flow of breath.
The sign reads, “always becoming”.
A calm exhale.
Toxic thoughts pushed out by the salty ocean air.
So… Many… Thoughts.
Letting go of all the small things.
Blocking them from ever returning.
The small things grow into big things and those big things can pull you under, so far under that your lungs scream at you because you’re breathing through a straw so you turn away from the rabbit hole and you grasp the hand of that friend and you walk away and dip your toes in the cool ocean not afraid to look back.


Photo From Kind Over Matter

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these are the things I’m not…
a sea of scattered storms,
thunder and lightning,
swirling winds out of control,
a ship being tossed.

these are the things I’m not…
a wandering child,
shivering from the chill of each forward step,
paralyzed by the unknown monster in the closet,
a fear lurking around a corner.

these are the things I’m not…
a book with too many words,
a pinball thumping from bumper to bumper,
a string of incoherent thoughts,
a poem that doesn’t rhyme.

these are the things I’m not…
a tally of all the wrongs,
the number of people who slipped away,
a mourning of memories,
a road going nowhere.

these are the things I’m not…
a limit on my possibilities,
a crack so small the light can’t get through,
a shadow blurred and distorted,
a broken branch on the forest floor.

these are the things I’m not…
a star that lost its glow,
a speck at the bottom of the world,
a mountain without a view,
a soul who lost all hope.

I’m not…
giving up,
giving in,
playing dead,
rolling over,
glancing back,
sealed tight,
weeping silently,
stuck in the moment,
afraid to hurl myself at the blazing sun.

these are the things I’m not…
a story that moves too slow,
a song in a melancholy pitch,
the world caving in,
a novel that will never be finished.

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This isn’t everything you are.

I joined the Peace Corps when I was 21. I never went.
The boy I thought I loved asked me to marry him and he wasn’t sure where we’d be in two years if I was away in the Peace Corps… so, I never went.

This story isn’t everything I am.

I got pregnant with my oldest at the beginning of my last year in grad school. She was born a month early and quickly whisked away to the NICU at another hospital while I recovered from the emergency c-section. It was 4 days later that I finally got to touch her, to hold her next to my chest. There were tubes and alarms and organized chaos surrounding her at all times those first two weeks. When she came home… I sat next to her bassinet and watched her chest inflate and deflate, inflate and deflate — for several weeks that was my only concern.

This story isn’t everything I am.

One October, I rented a cabin in the mountains for my mothers birthday. We were all excited to spend a few days going to amusement parks and looking at the smoke on the top of the mountains and breathing the air. The morning we were to leave, my mother called me early and said to go without her and my father, he was sick and she needed to get him to the doctor. When I got home from the serendipity of the mountain cabin, feeling refreshed and calm and at peace… I learned my father had lung cancer.
Nothing was the same after that.

This story isn’t everything I am.

Two days after Christmas, my mother was sick enough to need a trip to the ER. I came to talk to her and the doctor. When I walked through the hospital door, my mother said she had cancer. I said she was over-reacting. The doctor came in and he said she had cancer. I told him that was impossible — it had only been about 4 weeks since we buried my father after he died from lung cancer. That’s actually what I told the doctor, it had only been 4 weeks, as if to say my dad had already died from cancer… our odds are over, the rest of us should be okay. It was impossible for my mother to now also have cancer, that’s not how cancer works is it?

This story isn’t everything I am.

For 18 years, I was a wife and a mother and a taxi and a nurse and a chef and a maid and… I had a career.
I lost myself.
Maybe that’s what we’re all destined to do for a certain number of years — the finding yourself part certainly makes for some amazing memoirs and blog posts and stories late at night on a warm summer evening surrounded by your friends and many empty bottles of wine.

This story isn’t everything I am.

I think, possibly, someone who looks around at the memories of their life and says, “I have no regrets”, must not have risked too much. I think, possibly, those who look around at the pieces of their life and can say, “I wouldn’t change a single mistake”, “I wouldn’t pass up a single regret”, have lived a life full of love and meaning.
Life isn’t lived in the memories of “do-overs”, life is lived in the fringes of decision.

This isn’t everything you are.


“Learn to watch your drama unfold while at the same time knowing you are more than your drama.” ~~ Ram Dass

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Shape me…

into the girl you thought I was,

dressed in ruffles with bows in my hair.

Tell me…

that love means hearts get broken,

that being bruised is better than nothing at all.

Hear me…

when I tell you my truth,

my truth doesn’t match yours.

See me…

when I wave my hands in your face,

desperate for a gleam of recognition.

Feel me…

when I’m tugging at your sleeve,

hoping for a minute of your time.

Listen to me…

goodbyes are important to get right,

this one seems so hollow.

Look at me…

past your keyhole view,

into the eyes of a complicated being.

Think about me…

questions coming into focus,

the searching will never end.

Accept me…

this is who I am,

standing here reaching, just reaching.

Shape me…

always learning,

always becoming more.

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I remember playing a game as a kid, mainly it was one of those games that girls play late into the night at slumber parties… right after they called the cutest boy in school on the phone, played a round of truth or dare, or talked endlessly about their hopes and dreams. After all that, right before everyone would finally give out and their eyes were fighting the urge to close, came “I never…”. The answers were usually related to young girl thoughts — “I never… cheated on a test”, I never… kissed a boy under the bleachers”, “I never… smoked a cigarette”.

My thoughts took me back to this game and the intimacy it gave to friends — to girls — as we felt open and available to share our thoughts and concerns and dreams with each other in a playful way, with no judgments (but often with laughter and occasionally a few tears). I thought of how that game changes, as so many things change, as we gain experiences and grow older. I thought about gathering some of my closest friends and introducing a new game, one that would give way to our experiences and free us to share and continue the dream (and laugh and occasionally cry). A game fitting our experiences, “I thought I would never…” would be the new game, a game I’d like to play.

I’ll start:

I thought I would never…

  • jump off a bridge.
  • swim across a lake, naked.
  • return from a date at 7:00am after sitting in a park and watching the sun set and rise and naming all the constellations.
  • drive a car off a mountain.
  • touch a hammerhead shark.
  • join the Peace Corps (more on that later… maybe).
  • bake a 5 layer Red Velvet cake.
  • be the mother to 3 gorgeously intelligent kids.
  • smoke a cigar.
  • start a blog.
  • become friends with complete strangers.
  • build my dream home.
  • sell my dream home.
  • get divorced.
  • go to Hawaii.
  • ski barefoot.
  • tell anyone the things I find myself saying.

Our games change as we get older, but the point… the intent of the games remain — to open up a discussion among friends, sisters. I hope that each year I am able to look back on my life and add to my list because there are still many things that fall into the “I never” category and I’d like to change that. I’d like to be able to look back soon and update this with tells of travel and friends and dates. But, for now, I’d like to ask you a question — pretending of course that we’re all at a large slumber party (I would imagine our slumber parties now would have wine and sushi and chocolate… of course chocolate). So, grab your wine and tell us all, “I thought I would never…”

Picture From Kind Over Matter

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There’s a game I like to play called “Help Me Think This Through, Would You!” The rules are simple — I ask questions I need help sorting through myself. When you answer, when you’re truthful and honest — it helps me be truthful and honest as well. Here’s one that came up recently, “do you have a fault you would change?” The answer I settled on wasn’t the answer I originally thought of as my biggest fault. I originally thought my biggest fault was my lack of patience. But, suddenly the brain began to synapse and I saw my (one of my) biggest faults staring me down from the keyboard upon which I was typing — expectations.

I have expectations in people. I create scenarios of how I think a conversation will go or a card I think will arrive in the mail or an email I think may arrive any second now. Then… nothing. And I’m left with the chaos that I created. Not because the other person is unthinking or uncaring but because I am too thinking — the chaos is my own making. It must be incredibly freeing to not have expectations of others. To never feel let down or disappointed or left out.

The expectations I sometimes levy on people — unbeknown to them — can leave me with a feeling of rampant chaos. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have expectations for your kids to make good grades in school, for your spouse to treat you with dignity and respect, for your dog to greet you everyday you come home. We do have some expectations and those are good. It’s the ones we cast down on our unsuspecting friends and loved ones, the ones where we created the scenarios of grandeur, the ones that leave us sad.

So, my new goal is to attempt to only have expectations for myself. I believe that if I be the person for others that I (mistakenly) expect them to be for me, then, eventually…maybe, it will come back to me. I need to be the friend I want to have, I need to be the mother my kids dream about having, I need to expect great things from myself, and I need to love those who are gracious enough to be in my life just for being in my life. The expectations should be only for my own behavior and when that occurs, the rampant chaos will no longer rule my world.

So, back to my favorite game… if you could change one fault of yours, what would it be and why?




“Anger always comes from frustrated expectations” — Elliott Larson

“The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.” — Eli Khamarov


“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyse your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.” — Leo F. Buscaglia

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I think the mind (my mind) works in the same manner as a web search works. You know when you go to Google something (you know you Google) and it directs you to your page but then once you get to your page there’s an interesting link that relates to your page and so you click on the interesting link on your page and it takes you to another interesting link on another interesting page and pretty soon you’re 10 links away from your original link and you can’t quite remember why you needed the original link in the first place because where you ended up seems to have put you in another completely different Google mindset? Do you know that feeling? This is often my brain at work, my thought process.

Here’s my most recent example. And, by recent, I mean when I started to write this post because it’s happened several times since beginning, but fortunately I was able to come back here and regroup… wait, what were we talking about? Oh yes, my often scattered thought process.

I read a post, by the lovely and talented Judy Clement Wall, about being vulnerable, really. At least that was my take away from it — vulnerability in life, in blogs, in friendships… everywhere. And how, sometimes, we just have to give in to the vulnerability because if we don’t, we stand to lose out on some interesting experiences, life-long friendships, and personal growth.

It amazes me how lonely we can feel in a world so crowded. I think that’s why little acts of kindness never feel little, why we are biologically altered by each others touch, why love makes us feel so alive and endings sometimes feel like little deaths… Judy Clement Wall

So there we are, in the middle of balancing feelings of being alive when our lungs are filled to capacity and little deaths that hurt… and take our breath away. Vulnerability.

Another lovely and talented lady, Terre Pruitt, spun her own web of wonder from this post. Terre is an instructor in Nia. I don’t really understand Nia but am growing more and more interested in the practice.

…in Nia being barefoot is about exercising the feet, but it also is about being aware, being present, being open, and being free and some people need to work up to that. — Terre Pruitt

When I read Terre’s post, I began thinking about my own bare foot naked wiggly toed self — and vulnerability — and balance. And here’s where my scattered thoughts brought me… to the beach.

I love the beach, although, in Tennessee, the nearest beach is around a 7 hour drive (that’s alone, without stopping and without kids — you get the idea), so when I arrive there, I smell it and I feel it and I let it take me away. I love standing right at the edge of the ocean where the water continually comes up to cover your feet and your toes and as it does, it takes the sand from underneath you, just enough so that your footing becomes unsteady. And in that unsteadiness, when you can either remain rooted in your spot and continue to sink down further until you lose your balance and fall or you can adjust your feet and allow the sand to fill in the spaces under your toes so that you balance and climb and stay above it all — so that you’re not stuck, in that space… you can choose balance. I always choose to move my feet. I risk the shakiness of being balanced on one foot long enough to allow the ground to recover and the sand to drain between my toes — there, I am balanced. In the sand that is constantly being shifted and churned and taken away and replaced — balance is achieved effortlessly.

Balance can be a chain reaction. It can be achieved by reading a post by a friend and then reading another post by a another friend or it can be achieved by the people you choose to allow in your life or it can be achieved by shifting your stance just enough to allow the sand to fall between your toes. Perhaps it’s all of these, and more I suspect. Perhaps it’s a chain reaction — like many things in life.

Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Robert Fulgham

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